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Noted bicycle journalist Jan Heine explains the argument against separated bikeways

Posted by on May 16th, 2013 at 9:31 am

Seattle resident Jan Heine is a very respected figure in the bicycling world. As editor of Bicycle Quarterly, a magazine that delves deeply into bicycle design and randonneuring, he has a large and loyal following. So when he published a lengthy blog post yesterday that was highly critical of the “worrisome trend” in the U.S. of building and advocating for cycle tracks and other types of physically separated bikeways — I wasn’t surprised at the heated debate it stirred up (both in his comment section and on Twitter when I shared the link).

Heine has touched a nerve on one of the the most heated debates in the bicycling world: Should we create separation (which is the outlook held by almost every major bike advocacy organization) similar to the great bike cities of northern Europe; or should we focus on educating people how to “take the lane” and maintain the push for “vehicular cycling” wherein people on bikes learn to share lanes with those of us in cars. (Or better yet, as some have pointed out in comments below, we should combine the best aspects of the two approaches.)

In his blog post, he explains his position in thorough detail and several photographs of a protected bike lane (I’m not sure of its location, but it’s clearly in the U.S.). Here are a few excerpts (which I share with concern for lack of context and I recommend reading his entire post):

“At first sight, separate bike paths seem appealing. You are away from cars, riding by yourself…

Unfortunately, this idyllic view hides some very real dangers.

To understand bicycle safety, it is important to look at the actual, rather than perceived, dangers. The danger of being hit from behind or being “clipped” by a car passing too close is very small. It accounts for less than 5% of car-bike accidents.

Most accidents involving bikes and cars occur at intersections…

This is the greatest danger for cyclists: being overlooked in traffic. Since drivers usually scan the road for cars, cyclists are safest if they ride where drivers look for cars. To be safe, cyclists must be an equal part of traffic.

Heine’s greatest concern is one shared by a lot of critics of separated bikeways: that they decrease visibility, lead to more collisions, erode riders’ right to the road, and lead to a false sense of security.

Pointing to data from Berlin, Heine is convinced that separated bikeways lead to more collisions: “On streets with frequent intersections, separate paths only make cycling less safe. I wish those who advocate for them would look at the data and stop asking for facilities that will cause more accidents.”

If separated bikeways are so bad, why do they exist in all of the best biking cities in the world? Here’s how he explains that:

“Having lived in Europe, I believe that cycling there is successful in spite of (and not because of) the bike paths. It may help to know that separate bike paths originally were not introduced to make cycling better, but to clear the road for cars (by the car-obsessed Nazis in Germany). For that reason, cyclists were required by law to use the bike path, whether it was well-designed or not. Other European countries quickly followed this “innovation.” It spread to yet more countries when Germany invaded much of Europe during World War II.”

Heine’s post has garnered a lot of support and a lot of opposition with strong feelings on both sides. It shows that, while separated bikeways have come to dominate the U.S. bike advocacy vision — there remains support for a more vehicular cycling approach.

The League of American Bicyclists knows this all too well. After years of internecine wrangling within their board, ardent vehicular cycling advocates only recently realized the League would never stray from a promotion of separated facilities. Given that, they’ve moved on and have created IAmTraffic.org to promote their vision.

While I know many people disagree strongly with Heine’s perspective, I think it’s important for advocates and activists to realize, acknowledge, and respect it. Is there a way to meld these visions? Or is this battle of perspectives destined to persist? Will promotion of separated facilities lead to a loss of “rights to the road” for people on bicycles?

Read Jan Heine’s post: Bike to Work 3: Separate or Equal?.

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Comments
  • Nick Falbo May 16, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Bad cycle tracks are bad.

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  • Terry D May 16, 2013 at 9:51 am

    It seems to me that this configuration would work best on heavily trafficked roads where most of the access is needed on one side of the street. Controlled crossings could be built at main intersections.

    Lombard-Portland Highway from NE 11th to the Cully neighborhood comes to mind. This configuration would be perfect for a redo of that nightmare of a bike lane. On a narrow commercial or residential street though where access is needed on both sides for multiple entrances it seems too confining and would create more problems than it solves. It also would give automobile drivers psychological force to “demand” that you “get out of their lane” even if you are going the speed of traffic.

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  • Lynne May 16, 2013 at 9:59 am

    There are people who will not ride their bike if there is not a bike lane for them. This approach cuts out the learning/transition phase, and raises the barriers for people to start cycling.

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    • Champs May 16, 2013 at 10:22 am

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with bike lanes, just separated routes.

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    • spare_wheel May 16, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      jan heine’s article has nothing to do with bike lanes.

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  • Shane Lillie May 16, 2013 at 10:00 am

    I have to agree with his idea here. The roads where I’m most cautious about bicycles, particularly at intersections are the ones where the bikes are most visible to me. The corner of SE 7th and Madison and down Madison to Grand comes to mind. You’ve got the green lanes, the bike boxes, signs everywhere, bikes going all directions on the roads, it’s hard to get complacent there and forget to look twice before making a move. Take all of that away and hide the bikes right up to the intersection and I could easily see myself zoning out at the wrong time.

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    • Nick Falbo May 16, 2013 at 10:22 am

      A well designed cycle track will not “hide” bicyclists – They will be as visible to drivers at intersections as they are in bike lanes, or signalization controls will separate conflicting right-hook movements.

      I think SE Hawthorne eastbound right off of the bridge would be a fantastic opportunity to prove how well high-volume cycle tracks can work in Portland.

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      • Spiffy May 16, 2013 at 12:48 pm

        They will be as visible to drivers at intersections as they are in bike lanes, or signalization controls will separate conflicting right-hook movements.

        and that’s exactly the problem they’re talking about, they’ll only be visible at the intersections… before the intersection drivers won’t have any need to care so when they get to the intersection SURPRISE there’s a bike there…

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      • davemess May 16, 2013 at 1:20 pm

        So how would a non-hidden cycle track look? We clearly don’t have one in Portland. The separation by definition takes drivers focus away from cyclists. I find it hard to believe that we can make a cyclist on a separated track as visible as one in the road, or even a bike lane, that a driver has to physically pass or at least notice.

        Nick, were you for or against cycletrack on Foster? If for, how did you see it working?

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        • Nick Falbo May 16, 2013 at 1:56 pm

          I’m going to get some shit for this, but I think some parts of Cully do a really good job of promoting visibility: Southbound, close to Prescott, parking is removed completely and the raised cycle track is as visible as a conventional bike lane would be: http://goo.gl/maps/kbXvm

          I’ve heard a lot of complaints regarding Cully about the zig zag maneuver at intersections, and I agree it’s less than ideal. But if bicyclists are shifted toward the roadway far enough in advance of intersections, they should also be as visible as they would be in an conventional bike lane. Ideally, on a raised cycle track, bicyclists would still be visible above the top of parked cars.

          As for Foster Rd. I’m for cycle tracks on Foster east of 72nd Ave assuming there is driveway consolidation, and selective prohibition of parking. Due to relatively long blocks, the “zig zag” at intersections should be relatively rare. It may be a moot point however, due to space constraints we cannot build a cycle track unless we move the curbline, which is appears to be cost prohibitive. This is still under discussion.

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  • yoyossarian May 16, 2013 at 10:01 am

    The biggest issue with vehicular cycling is the speed differential between cars and bikes. Since roads were given over to cars, most of the direct routes to get around the city are on high speed arterials. Even streets like NW Glisan and Everett create an environment where it’s either bike your ass off to keep up with traffic, or piss motorists off. I’m all for taking the lane when I can keep up with the flow of traffic, but come on, I don’t always want to feel like I’m running the gauntlet wen I hop on my bike.

    Vehicular cycling is largely for the fast, strong, and brave. Most of us don’t fit all three of those adjectives for the entire span of our cycling lives.

    Some of us want to get where we’re going in a relaxed, moderate to slow pace sometimes, and not be jockeying with fast moving hulks of steel. I get the intersection conflict argument, but the answer to that is to design better intersections!

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    • spare_wheel May 16, 2013 at 11:00 am

      slowing and/or limiting motorized traffic is a very effective solution to the problem of speed difference. moreover, given the inevitable decline of human-operated motor vehicle traffic i think that roads will be increasingly taken back from cars.

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      • yoyossarian May 16, 2013 at 11:07 am

        True, but most people, including myself, don’t like to casually cycle along while holding up angry motorists on busy streets. Even when I’m going the speed limit I get passed at close proximity, honked at, and cursed at. No fun.

        I get it, one day hopefully the paradigm will shift and bikes will once again take their rightful place in the streets as a main form of transport. I’m thinking about how I want to safely and comfortably get around my city today, this year, and over the next few decades. Barring an oil crisis, cars are not going anywhere anytime soon and neither are the unsafe driving habits of their occupants.

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        • 9watts May 16, 2013 at 11:18 am

          “Barring an oil crisis, cars are not going anywhere anytime soon”

          There are many plausible scenarios whereby cars would ‘go somewhere soon’ besides an oil crisis. And, for that matter, an oil crisis is not even the best way to think about this, because we already had two of those in the seventies and although it affected the amount of driving people did as well as the choice of new cars, the fleet mix, CAFE, etc., it didn’t in the end threaten the whole enterprise.
          What I’m saying is – this time around it will.

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          • was carless May 16, 2013 at 12:36 pm

            STILL, the reality is that traffic is here today. Claiming that “oh don’t worry, all the cars will be off the road in a couple of years” is a disingenuous argument that is at best wishful thinking. The reality is that unless you are biking all-out to keep up with traffic (barely), you can really feel the traffic piling up behind you as you un-blithely cruise uphill on your Raleigh 1-speed cruiser.

            At this point, I would settle to have bike lanes on all major arterials in Portland – even 5 foot ones, just so I can opt not to go “all out” on my 27 speed bike, and I can ride some of my other bikes. I would imagine that those riding bakfiets with kids also have a hard time pushing 35mph on Powell…

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            • 9watts May 16, 2013 at 12:44 pm

              “‘oh don’t worry, all the cars will be off the road in a couple of years’ is a disingenuous argument that is at best wishful thinking.”

              I think you misread what I said. I didn’t say let’s sit on our hands because, well, cars are going away.
              I said, let’s not let those who are planning transportation investments get away with pretending that all this doesn’t concern us, that we have to assume cars will always be with us (Oregonian Editorial Board stomping its’ foot).
              Whether we invest in this kind of bike infrastructure or that kind of bike infrastructure or don’t invest in any depends I think on what our assessment of the future-when-compared-to-the-lifetime-of-the-infrastructure is. If the number of cars driving on our roads within ten years could drop by a quarter, or by half, or by three-quarters, wouldn’t you agree that this is an important factor to consider when it comes to transportation infrastructure? Right now I don’t see PBOT or ODOT taking any version of this into consideration. I see idiotic extrapolations of already obsolete traffic volumes by ODOT in support of the CRC. And although I’m sure PBOT can and does do better, nevertheless the acknowledgement that tomorrow’s mode split may not be at all like yesterday’s is still missing–at least I’ve not seen anything to suggest otherwise.

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            • spare_wheel May 16, 2013 at 1:51 pm

              how many times do i have to point out that jan heine is not against bike lanes? and the enormously ironic thing is that it is often advocates of separated infrastructure who argue against construction of new bike lanes because they are not “world class copenhagen-style” facility.

              to quote jan again:

              “I think you misunderstand. What I am saying is that in the U.S., there currently is a trend to advocate for “protected” facilities everywhere. As a result, Seattle and other cities put in “separated facilities without proper design for the intersections.” (To Seattle’s credit, they tried by limiting parking near the intersections, etc.) And then everybody congratulates each other and says: “We are well under way to become the Copenhagen of North America.”

              “I am all for separate facilities where they can be implemented well. That always will be my first choice, but poorly implemented, they are worse than nothing. Unfortunately, it seems the Seattle is bent on poor implementation. The next one planned is on Broadway, a street with multiple intersections, turning traffic and general mayhem. Not a good candidate.”

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            • gutterbunnybikes July 16, 2014 at 5:34 am

              I ride a 3 speed Raleigh, and I take the lane….and prefer taking the lane over riding on the shoulder (ie bike path).

              Sure the cars might pass too close, as they often do while riding in a bike lane- but the difference is most the time they have slowed down when you are in the auto lane, they probably didn’t while you’re riding on the shoulder. Though it might not seem like it because they make more noise while accelerating back to speed as they pass you.

              As for cursing and honking….So what. Just smile and wave. And realize your ride just got momentarily safer, because the driver has just alerted everyone in the vicinity to your presence.

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        • spare_wheel May 16, 2013 at 12:02 pm

          in my experience motorists in pdx are incredibly considerate and accepting of cyclists in the lane.

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    • Spiffy May 16, 2013 at 12:51 pm

      Even streets like NW Glisan and Everett create an environment where it’s either bike your ass off to keep up with traffic, or piss motorists off.

      I’m not pissing motorists off by obeying the law… they’re pissing themselves off by being impatient and angry… it’s their problem, not mine… I happily ride legally in the middle of the lane with a block of cars trailing me…

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      • yoyossarian May 16, 2013 at 1:16 pm

        I’m glad you can happily ride down the middle of a busy street while holding up traffic, but I can’t, and I would be willing to bet a large amount of money most people wouldn’t prefer it either. A bike is not a car and the consequences of getting rear ended or right hooked by someone changing lanes can be life or death.

        I agree with what you said about the drivers pissing themselves off, but simply providing separated infrastructure or a bike lane allows someone riding a bike to go at their own pace and decreases the chances of conflict. Fewer chances of auto conflict = more perceived safety = more people cycling = more actual safety.

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        • gutterbunnybikes July 16, 2014 at 5:38 am

          Right hooks are way less common when taking the lane. Bike lanes do absolutely nothing for right hooks – it’s an intersection incident not a passing incident.

          And many of the studies that have been done report that right hooks increase with lanes.

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    • davemess May 16, 2013 at 1:22 pm

      yoyo, do you have a problem with bike lanes on these arterials, like the ones on Glisan (they stop at 47th)? Is that sufficient for you?

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      • yoyossarian May 16, 2013 at 1:45 pm

        This discussion is getting into larger territory than my original point that advocates of vehicular cycling ignore the large amount of current and potential people on bikes who are unwilling or unable to engage in safe vehicular cycling, especially on the busier and more direct roads.

        I consider myself capable of fast and safe vehicular cycling, and will engage in it when necessary, but I prefer to have separated space where I can go at my own leisurely pace with decreased concern for car on bike conflict. I think bike lanes on arterials are great, but cycle tracks on arterials would be ideal, as long as major intersections are given the proper treatment.

        My opinion is the major component missing in Portland’s bike network are a few high-quality cycle tracks on some main arterials, with neighborhood greenways and old fashioned bike lanes feeding into them. Just imagine if there were large cycle tracks on one or a few of Sandy/Burnside, Powell, MLK/Grand acting as collector for the existing bike network. and providing a few truly direct routes through parts of the city.

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        • spare_wheel May 16, 2013 at 2:22 pm

          “that advocates of vehicular cycling ignore the large amount of current and potential people on bikes who are unwilling or unable to engage in safe vehicular cycling.”

          can you point to a single person that is advocating for john forester-style VC cycling? if you cannot, you should admit that you are arguing with a strawman of your own creation. and, btw, your position vis-a-vis cycle tracks sounds identical to jan heine’s.

          i don’t agree with your vision simply because i believe that the maximum speed limit in pdx should be 30 mph. imo, if motorists want a f*#@ing freeway in the middle of a city they should shell out the funds to make it a safe limited access road.

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          • yoyossarian May 16, 2013 at 3:11 pm

            I’m not arguing with Heine, I think he makes some good points. I was just trying to make some general commentary on vehicular cycling because there have been many comments on here from people who think bike boxes and bike lanes do more harm than good and that taking the lane is the best approach. I just think taking the lane is not a good option for a lot of people on a lot of roads in Portland, and even imperfect bike lanes and cycle tracks are often a better solution. Plus, once they’re implemented they can be improved upon over time, as we’ve seen in Portland where bike lanes get enough increased traffic to warrant improvements due to demand.

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            • spare_wheel May 16, 2013 at 3:58 pm

              please link to one example of someone who is arguing against bike lanes on this comment thread (or on jan heine’s blog post).

              *crickets*

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              • yoyossarian May 16, 2013 at 4:23 pm

                Ok, if you want to tell me people on Bike Portland (and the cycling community at large) haven’t argued against separated bike infrastructure, then I’m just going to cut my losses and bid this discussion adieu.

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                • davemess May 17, 2013 at 7:13 am

                  Bike lanes aren’t separated infrastructure! That is what we’re trying to say. Separated path (what the author is talking about) are physically separated with a barrier of some kind. Bike lanes (in most people’s mind on his site) do not fit into that category. I feel you think that they do, and thus are assuming that we are all arguing against bike lanes. But that is certainly not the case.

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      • yoyossarian May 16, 2013 at 1:53 pm

        The more I think about it the more I realize that my daily morning trip down NW Everett illustrates both points pretty well. Where NW Everett intersects with NW 16th, there is an onramp for 405. The bike lane on Everett has a bike box here, but morning drivers often fail to check for bike traffic. I’m aware cars often fail to yield and I avoid right hooks several times a week only due to my own vigilance.

        Vehicular cycling would remove the right hook conflict here, but then I’d be waiting in traffic for several blocks instead of bypassing cars in the bike lane. If I’m acting like car traffic, I’m stuck in said car traffic. The other solution would be a bike signal at the intersection. Expensive, but if bikes are truly a respected part of our transit network, money is going to be necessary to make intersections like this work for all users. I just don’t see vehicular cycling as a long term solution, or a particularly enjoyable one in high-traffic situations.

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        • are May 16, 2013 at 5:19 pm

          isn’t everett one way through there? how bad is the backup in the left lane?

          there. now you can point to a clearly vehicular comment on this thread. you’re welcome.

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  • Rita May 16, 2013 at 10:02 am

    I kinda see this thinking making an assumption that “all bikers are like me”. Not all bikers have the same goal. One size does not suit all. Some folks will not bike til they feel safely separated from the metal deathtraps. Some don’t see why they shouldn’t bike on the interstate. There is no one true way.

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  • Paul May 16, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Berlin’s cycle tracks are absolute crap, especially the intersection design. Newer Dutch designs are incredibly awesome. So lumping European cycling infrastructure into one category is crazy. One thing about having better separation at intersections is that the space give either party more time to assess and react, whereas riding 2 feet to the right of a car does not. Vehicular cycling is only for a small percentage of the population, but I think we can have both. If instead vehicular cyclists stop trash-talking infrastructure, they advocate their right to use a vehicular lane if they choose, regardless if there’s a bike lane or not.

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    • spare_wheel May 16, 2013 at 10:23 am

      “If instead vehicular cyclists stop trash-talking infrastructure, they advocate their right to use a vehicular lane if they choose, regardless if there’s a bike lane or not.”

      What you call trash talking is often valid criticism. The german cycling federation used dutch cycling data to show that dutch cycle paths were also associated with an increase in injury accidents versus bike lanes.

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    • was carless May 16, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      Judging by cycling’s success in Berlin, your statement is suspect:

      Berlin has more bicycle traffic than any city in Europe. Period:

      “Berlin is a hugely under-appreciated cycling city. Often overshadowed by the accomplishments of Amsterdam and Copenhagen, over the past two decades Berlin has quietly experienced what is perhaps the most striking cycling renaissance in the world. On any given day, more trips are now made by bicycle in Berlin than any other European city.”

      http://sf.streetsblog.org/2011/10/13/berlins-striking-cycling-renaissance/

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      • spare_wheel May 16, 2013 at 1:59 pm

        and the meteoric rise in cycling in germany has occurred during a period of time where it was/is public policy (strongly supported by german cycling federation) to rip out separated infrastructure and install wide 2-3 meter wide bike lanes. at the same time several federal court cases brought at the behest of the german cycling federation invalidated the mandatory sidepath law.

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  • 9watts May 16, 2013 at 10:04 am

    “Should we create separation [...] or should we focus on educating people how to “take the lane” and maintain the push for ‘vehicular cycling’ wherein people on bikes learn to share lanes with those of us in cars.”

    I’m not sure those are the only choices. I am still holding out hope that we can introduce a dynamic aspect to this conversation, wherein we acknowledge the looming twilight of automobile dominance, that cannot but affect this question. Building infrastructure is by definition a long term proposition. Why pretend that (significant) changes to the mode split cannot occur, do not pertain? Some people are now waking up to the fact that cars may not always be with us. Why not allow that possibility and incorporate it as a scenario into any planning or discussion of how and where to bike?

    I’ll post this one again:
    We can switch from cars to bikes, now. Or we can leave our kids a climate-change disaster
    http://www.sfbg.com/2013/05/08/zero-sum-future

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    • spare_wheel May 19, 2013 at 1:11 pm

      Moreover, the extremist VC position and the extremist copenhagenista position both seek to preserve a car-centric status quo. IMO, both positions are auto-centric and anti-cyclist.

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      • El Biciclero May 20, 2013 at 9:43 am

        Wow. That is one pithy summary of the essence of this whole debate. Any argument against one extreme–from safety arguments to efficiency issues to degree of auto-centric-ness–can be presented just as strongly against the other extreme. This suggests that neither extreme is the right answer. The extremes are two sides of the same coin–we need a new currency.

        We need to find some kind of compromise that gives cyclists of all ability levels choices about how and where to operate their vehicles to suit their particular needs.

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  • Doug G. May 16, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Forget Europe. If separated bike lanes and cycling-specific infrastructure is so bad, why are cycling rates going up in NYC in lockstep with their installation?

    So-called experienced cyclists are perhaps the worst judges of cycling safety, since they’ve built up a strategy for tolerating and dealing with dangers and annoyances on the road that no newcomer, young mom, child, or other vulnerable new cyclist would ever accept.

    Vehicular cyclists suffer from Stockholm syndrome. They’ve had to exist with their captors for so long that they’ve come to identify with them and lack the proper perspective to put all forms of cycling and different types of European-style infrastructure in context.

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    • spare_wheel May 16, 2013 at 10:50 am

      Despite the fact that NYC also built more bike lanes, traffic calmed roads, created more shared space, and increased education funding you attribute the increase in cycling exclusively to a few cycle tracks. Talk about cognitive bias.

      “Vehicular cyclists suffer from Stockholm syndrome.”

      I recall signage on Alberta directing cyclists to the bike boulevard over there somewhere. I also remember a famous local advocate for segregated infrastructure complaining in the print media about cyclists riding on Hawthorne.

      Just sayin’

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    • spare_wheel May 16, 2013 at 12:11 pm

      Jan Heine from the comments to his blog post:

      “It supports my idea that with increasing car speeds on a road, the degree of separation should increase.”

      So, DougG, who exactly were you addressing your diatribe to?

      Its very hard to have a reasonable conversation with an advocate of segregated infrastructure. They see John Forester everywhere.

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    • davemess May 16, 2013 at 1:25 pm

      Doug, he doesn’t seem to lump seperated and cycling-specific infrastructure together. Seems like the author is okay with on-street bike lanes. I am pro bike lane, but (for the most part) anti-separated cycle track. You can be both those things.

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  • tonyt May 16, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Why is this an either/or proposition? Seems that different conditions warrant different solutions.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 16, 2013 at 10:21 am

      I agree completely tony. I regret making it seem otherwise in my story above and I’ve added a sentence to make that more clear. I think the vehicular cycling folks have a lot of important things to bring to the table and I also think separation is essential… so as is often the case, the best way forward is probably to take the best parts of each vision. And actually, that’s what’s happening in most American cities. People are building separated facilities in some places, while creating shared environments (sharrows, bike boulevards) in others.

      But the concerns of Heine (and others) are when a protected bikeway gets put on a main road instead of encouraging a shared environment.

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      • spare_wheel May 16, 2013 at 11:38 am

        The idea that most who cycle in a VC manner are categorically opposed to infrastructure is nonsense. Instead of promoting dialogue advocates of separated infrastructure increasingly try to paint those opposed to segregation as “forester with horns” extremists (e.g. the 1% who are “fearless” and “brave”). I personally cycle in a VC fashion but am a strong supporter of German-style 2-3 meter-wide bike lanes. And the explosive growth of cycling in Germany shows that the good old-fashioned bike lane is a valid path to increased mode share.

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      • Eugenebicyclist May 16, 2013 at 1:56 pm

        Jonathan, I think you micharacterized this story completely. It’s not about separation vs vehicular cycling at all. It’s about building something that has cache and seems safe when it really may have many problems. I don’t think opposing the idea of cycle tracks means you automatically think separation is bad. I think you polarized his point unecessarily by even bringing up “vehicular cycling”. It has little to do with that.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 16, 2013 at 2:04 pm

          That’s a fair critique Eugenebicyclist and I worried about that too. But I think what Heine is saying — and what I excerpted — in many ways is in agreement with core VC tenets. I mostly want people to read his post and I hope I didn’t misrepresent him.

          Also, it might be worth knowing that I received an email from Jan a few minutes ago saying, “Thank you for your reasoned and balanced post about my blog entry on separate facilities. I really appreciate it.”

          Thanks.

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          • Eugenebicyclist May 16, 2013 at 4:13 pm

            Thanks for the reply. I went back and read his post again. He does seem to advocate for a “right” to the road.

            My reaction on first reading it was that he articulated something I have experienced on those occasions I’ve ridden on a “cycletrack” or something similar — anxiety at being exposed to turning automobiles in a way that seemed somehow wrong. But I still believe separated facilities are beneficial. I *want* to like cycletracks. But I’m not sure they’re always helpful.

            Anyway, Jonathan, sorry to chime in here just because I had something critical to say about the way you framed this. As always, you’re doing a great job and important work. Thanks.

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            • spare_wheel May 16, 2013 at 5:09 pm

              i remember when a “right” to the road was a principle that the vast majority of cyclists agreed on. its sad to see this belief being equated with anti-infrastructure vehicularism.

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    • LoveDoctor May 16, 2013 at 11:01 am

      Here, Here! (Hear, Hear?) Neighborhood Greenways are a great example of how bikes and cars can and should coexist in the same space, as Jan imagines. Barbur Blvd represents a perfect example of the opposite. I don’t want to share the road with 50mph+ autos, nor is it efficient for them to slow to 15mph at the bridges (though, as currently designed, I do take the lane on the bridges; it’s the least horrible option). A system of Bike Highways that connect sections of the city, combined with Greenways for the beginning and end of most journeys, seems to me to be the best combination of shared (and low cost) infrastructure, with high capacity bike arteries.

      When this argument comes up, my thoughts always go to my wife. Despite my gentle nudges to bike more, she just doesn’t feel safe on any major road, even with bike lanes. Greenways are great, though, since traffic is generally pretty mild. I have to support whatever it takes (separated infrastructure) to get her on a bike.

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  • Jonathan May 16, 2013 at 10:15 am

    I’ve been hit twice by drivers who clipped me going by, once on purpose, once by a stressed out daredevil. I want more lanes, protected and painted.

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  • Daniel L May 16, 2013 at 10:33 am

    Ugh, not sure that we should “respect” the view that separated bicycle paths are bad. I see it as a just plain destructive view point.

    One, there’s got to be a word for the logical fallacy that because the Nazis did something it is bad. Unless it is committing genocide it really does not matter whether the nazis did something or not.

    Second, intersections are dangerous, it’s also where most car on car accidents occur, taking the lane doesn’t prevent them, or even lower the instances of them over separate bike paths. The fact that bike paths don’t solve the intersection problem shouldn’t negate their use at solving other problems. (Anecdotaly the only major collision I’ve been in was at an intersection, but it was while I was taking the lane.)

    Third, there actually are good solutions to the intersection problem, but they’re only doable if you have bike paths. Simple things like bicycle specific signals help a lot, the dutch corners work well too. There’s also a lot of paths out there that avoid intersections entirely by using tunnels and overpasses especially over busier streets so you can ride significant distances without ever having to cross a street. It would be super nice to have some of those around.

    I don’t care if you want to insist on doing it, but don’t tell me that the only way I’m allowed to ride my bike is if I coexist with 2 ton hunks of metal.

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    • JAT in Seattle May 16, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      It’s not the view that is being respected here it’s the person – the editor of Bicycle quarterly – if his accomplishments don’t speak for themselves because his view which differs from yours makes you apoplectic that’s fine, but it says more about you then it does about him.

      It’s an opinion, many people share it. You don’t have to share it, but if you find yourself unable to respect it I fear you’re not aligning yourself with cycling.
      http://commuteorlando.com/wordpress/2013/05/12/if-you-want-to-stop-having-this-debate/

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      • Daniel L May 16, 2013 at 2:57 pm

        You do realize that the link you provide literally advocates for a connected bike path network because poorly implemented bike lanes are still pretty dangerous, and that a lot of Heine’s argument is that separated bike paths are usually bad but bike lanes are usually fine, right?

        To be fair to Heine, after reading his original post and the comments to it his main point is that poorly planned bikeways aren’t really doing anyone any favors, which is something I can get behind except that he seems to come down to saying it has to be perfect or it’s better to do nothing. I tend to think that doing something, even imperfectly, is better than nothing but it needs to be followed up and work continued to solve the remaining problems.

        But back to your point, no I don’t have to respect a view that advocates bad policy, nor do I have to respect a person that has that view, regardless of their accomplishments. That’s not to say I’m opposed to discussion, I’m all for good, civil, policy discussion, but this isn’t really an issue that boils down to opinion, there are some real hard facts to go along with it. At least so long as it is based on the view that bicycling is good and we should encourage it.

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    • spare_wheel May 16, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      “I don’t care if you want to insist on doing it, but don’t tell me that the only way I’m allowed to ride my bike is if I coexist with 2 ton hunks of metal.”

      Jan Heine is not telling you this and neither would I. In fact, the entire VC cyclist debate occurring here has nothing to do with the content of Jan Heine’s blog post.

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      • Daniel L May 16, 2013 at 3:03 pm

        I agree that that is not what Heine is saying, and most of the discussion here doesn’t have a lot to do with his original post.

        It is however the logical consequence of the separated infrastructure is bad because cars need to get used to bicycles, “take the lane”, “sharrows are the solution to everything”, VC point of view though.

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        • spare_wheel May 16, 2013 at 4:09 pm

          please provide a single example of these positions here or on jan heine’s blog post.

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    • Chris I May 16, 2013 at 2:53 pm

      “Having lived in Europe, I believe that cycling there is successful in spite of (and not because of) the bike paths. It may help to know that separate bike paths originally were not introduced to make cycling better, but to clear the road for cars (by the car-obsessed Nazis in Germany).”

      It’s good to see that he’s already evoked Godwin’s Law. I was thinking it would take a few dozen responses before we would get there.

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      • Concordia Cyclist May 18, 2013 at 12:57 pm

        LOL -this discussion is OVER!

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      • Herb December 16, 2013 at 2:00 pm

        Not only does he invoke Godwin’s Law, he’s also wrong. Separated cycling facilities had their beginnings before 1900 in countries such as Netherlands, United States and even Germany: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_cycling_infrastructure#Pre-motorisation

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        • spare_wheel December 17, 2013 at 9:41 am

          Jan did not invoke Godwin’s law. Jan is a German national commenting on German history.

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          • Herb December 18, 2013 at 7:45 am

            And he got his own history wrong. No surprise, just because someone is born in a country doesn’t automatically mean that they are experts on the history of the country. I know I’m not.

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  • AndyC of Linnton May 16, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Well, yeah! In theory it’s a great idea. I hope these types of cyclists are strongly advocating for taking our streets back from the dominance of the automobile.
    If it’s like this, then count me in (Shared Space roadways):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLfasxqhBNU&feature=endscreen&NR=1

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    • AndyC of Linnton May 16, 2013 at 10:46 am

      Also, is there anyone out there calling themselves a “Vehicular Pedestrian”?

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      • Bill Walters May 16, 2013 at 12:02 pm

        Meh. Given the insurmountable speed differential, “vehicular pedestrian” candidates may be limited to Usain Bolt and his competitors. Thankfully, the bike’s mechanical advantage makes our pool much larger.

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      • are May 16, 2013 at 5:37 pm

        i do think that i function in a pedestrian mode better than some, in large part because of my vehicular cyclist orientation

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  • jeremy May 16, 2013 at 10:51 am

    I think there is an additional issue not considered in Heine’s post. While it is certainly true that most cyclist don’t get hit from behind (trusting the 5% figure) many cyclists are hesitant to “demand” their rights as a vehicle because of the wrath and ire it prompts from some drivers. From my own experience, as a strong, confident, speedy rider, I get stressed out by the potential and sometimes real confrontation with motorists–who yell out the window, gun their engines, cut me off, etc. No, I’m not being hit by them, but the experience of fear of retaliation or dangerous/aggressive behavior by motorists has me wishing for more separation, not less. There are times I have arrived at work visibly shaking from a conflict on the ride into work. Rarely am I shaking from anger, but instead from stress and fear of retaliation from drivers. It feels similar to the feeling I have had abroad when I find myself in a sketchy part of town/country I am unfamiliar with.

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  • Kirk May 16, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Jonathan, I believe the example he used in the blog post is the new cycle track along Linden Ave in Seattle. See this page for more details: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/linden.htm

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  • Brian E May 16, 2013 at 10:58 am

    We have a separated path in Aloha that runs along Farmington road (176th to 198th). It’s great for pedestrians, but in my opinion, dangerous for bikes.

    At every block you need to watch for 45 mph cars zipping off Farmington to a side street without warning. Then you have the cars that come from the side street, blindly crossing the path without stopping or looking.

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    • Nick Falbo May 16, 2013 at 11:46 am

      That Farmington Rd. path is a great example of a poorly designed facility. If that is what we get when we ask for separated or protected facilites, no wonder it is met with such opposition.

      Bad cycle tracks are bad, and great cycle tracks are great. We need more great cycle tracks to drive that point home.

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      • wsbob May 16, 2013 at 3:40 pm

        The Farmington bike lane is an example of, for Beaverton, and maybe the metro area…a very early, maybe late 70′s attempt to create a bike lane with some protection from the adjoining main lane. So it is that it has that raised curb, hopefully reducing the chances of people driving their motor vehicle into the bike lane, but which also has the unfortunate consequence of locking bike traffic into the bike lane for sometimes long distances. Whether by design or by natural evolution, it’s also a MUP, because sections of Farmington lack sidewalks.

        Thinking about how that particular bike lane along that road could possibly be improved, what to do? Remove the curbs dividing bike lane from main lane? This would allow people riding bikes, upon seeing or anticipating side traffic, to more readily transition from bike lane to main lane as a means of avoiding said traffic, though…between points 185th to Murray, Farmington motor vehicle traffic is terrible to ride in the main lanes with…heavy, fast, furious, especially dangerous for vulnerable road users.

        Maybe one of those buffered style bike lanes would be more effective on Farmington, assuming lane widths could be reduced to make room for it; buffers seem only about 3′ wide, so that seems doable.

        This bike lane serves a point already noted by others, that there is no one effective infrastructure answer to all situations. For its time, I think the Farmington bike lanes were considered to be quite a success. Even today, their benefits may be greater than their disadvantages, but maybe it’s time to make an effort to improve the function of this bike lane.

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    • El Biciclero May 16, 2013 at 11:47 am

      That path sucks royally. What is the point of a “bikes yield” sign at an intersection where cross traffic has a “STOP”? It’s the most ambiguous and ill-conceived traffic control I’ve ever seen. What they should put instead is “Cyclists watch out for idiot drivers if you know what’s good for you, cuz the law ain’t on your side here”.

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      • davemess May 16, 2013 at 1:28 pm

        You mean like the Springwater along Johnson Creek?

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  • Champs May 16, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Surveys repeatedly show that road users prefer separate facilities. Likewise, a school lunch menu written by the students would feature ice cream all day, every day.

    It’s good that there can still be a dialogue about safety perception, reality, and hopefully finding a balance between them. At the airport, screening gives us the illusion of security, but even at its worst, the TSA is relatively harmless. I can grudgingly accept this waste of time and money, but bad road designs kill people.

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    • spare_wheel May 16, 2013 at 11:14 am

      The germany cycling federation would disagree strongly with this comment.

      Cycling mode share in Munich:

      1996: 6%
      2011: 17.4%

      The idea that physically separated infrastructure correlates well with increased mode share is pure fiction.

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  • Brian Davis May 16, 2013 at 11:07 am

    The article by Heine, like too many arguments authored by vehicular cyclists, uses problems with existing bike infrastructure that we are all well aware of to argue _against_ bike infrastructure. It is a neat rhetorical trick, but it produces arguments that neither offer serious solutions to mobility problems nor stand up to critical analysis or hard questions.

    Heine is correct in noting that most conflicts occur at intersections where ‘protection’ provided by the facilities is minimal (many of the other unsupported assertions that he makes regarding crashes and conflicts do _not_ accurately reflect what the literature has shown), but the real answer is to find ways to provide _more_ protection at intersections, not to provide _less_ protection along the links.

    I’m proud Portland has been leading the way in the US here, and the proof is in the pudding with our cycling rates. In Amsterdam and Copenhagen, real protection is provided at nearly all intersections, and cycling is of course safer and more common there than anywhere. The notion that these two things are not related is almost as ridiculous as Heine’s violation of “Godwin’s Law.”

    To seriously address urban transportation problems transportation problems (rural ones are a different ball of wax entirely), we need to fundamentally rethink what our streets are, what purposes they serve, and what we should do with them. Vehicular cycling’s original sin is approaching these problems from an auto-centric mindset. Heine betrays these leanings by continually referring to the act of driving one’s car into a bike an “accident.” As more and more real academic research is conducted affirming the value of protected bikeways (which, unlike the Berlin study which Heine cites, has been vigorously criticized, peer reviewed, and edited and revised repeatedly for quality before it ever sees the light of day), vehicular cycling is being pushed further and further to the fringes by the League of American Bicyclists and others, and this is decidedly a good thing.

    I hope vehicular cyclists succeed in getting mandatory sidepath laws repealed, and then go gently into the goodnight.

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    • spare_wheel May 16, 2013 at 12:46 pm

      I would love to see your explanation for how physically-separated infrastructure could have promoted portland’s increase in cycling mode share (especially since we had none during that time period).

      I am also going to quote Jan Heine again:

      I agree that in some places, separate facilities are great. If you can design a bike path that doesn’t have intersections at every block, it can be a huge asset.”

      What I am saying is that in the U.S., there currently is a trend to advocate for “protected” facilities everywhere. As a result, Seattle and other cities put in “separated facilities without proper design for the intersections.”…And then everybody congratulates each other and says: “We are well under way to become the Copenhagen of North America.

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      • Brian Davis May 16, 2013 at 2:06 pm

        Sorry, I should have been clearer about what I was arguing there, though I don’t mention anything about “physical separation” anywhere. I was talking specifically about intersection treatments to reduce bike-car conflicts, which Portland most certainly has been trying over the last several years as cycling has increased. That’s the key to infrastructure that works (bike stuff or otherwise)–getting the intersections right. I’d argue that from a safety standpoint, it’s nearly immaterial what kind of separation is offered along the links, but from a comfort standpoint, the value of physical separation is huge. Heine does not appear to disagree with this. But he does seem to be advocating for less physical separation along the links because of the safety issue at intersections. I think the issues are best addressed by providing more protection & separation at intersections, not less along links.

        I should note that I am not in love with everything the City is doing–using bike boxes as a one-size fits all solution for the right hook conflict is something I’ve argued against vigorously in the past, but at least we’re trying things, gathering data, and drawing conclusions based upon it. And the treatments are improving (though far from perfect), as ITS devices and bike signals start to become more and more commonplace at dangerous intersections, with cycling increasing all the while.

        I’m not sure what you’re getting at with your Heine quotes. The notion of designing a bike path that doesn’t intersect at “every block” is unrealistic (the only way to accomplish that would be above-grade or below-grade crossings which would be, uh…cost prohibitive). I don’t think anyone thinks separate facilities “everywhere” is great. But I do think they’re a good solution in a lot more situations than Heine likely does. And if our goal really is to increase cycling to 20-30% of all trips, it’s certainly wise to look at the small handful of cities that have actually accomplished this. What you see when you look there is precisely what Heine appears to be arguing against.

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        • Eugenebicyclist May 16, 2013 at 4:23 pm

          You mention “the literature” and “academic research” — any links you can share to pertinent studies, place where it has been done properly?

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          • Brian Davis May 16, 2013 at 6:15 pm

            Two of the better papers I’ve found that aren’t not behind a paywall:

            http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.2012.300762

            Note this powerful statement:

            “Of 14 route types, cycle tracks had the lowest risk (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 0.11; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.02, 0.54), about one ninth the risk of the reference: major streets with parked cars and no bike infrastructure.”

            And this paper:
            http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/early/2011/02/02/ip.2010.028696.full

            With the key takeaway:

            “These data suggest that the injury risk of bicycling on cycle tracks is less than bicycling in streets. The construction of cycle tracks should not be discouraged.”

            The Green Lane Project has a fantastic list of papers regarding bikeways here, both on safety and other matters:
            http://greenlaneproject.org/stats/

            Several researchers stand out to me as continually doing great work on these subjects. Jennifer Dill from PSU is a leader on researching the connection between cycling rates and infrastructure. Search out her work. Also look for Peter Furth, who has imported more cycling knowledge from the Netherlands than anyone else (full disclosure: he led the NL trip I participated in back in 2011) and is an all around guru when it comes to bike safety vs. infrastructure.

            Finally, go get the book City Cycling if it’s not on your bookshelf yet. It contains easily accessible, non-academic-y articles by all of the heavyweights, and is of excellent quality, having been edited by John Pucher and Ralph Buehler, two folks who have consistently produced extraordinary work and have done a TON to push cycling forward.

            From this, you’ll see that it’s exceedingly clear that there is a safety benefit and benefit in terms of more people riding when better quality infrastructure is built, and claims to the contrary are, frankly, nonsensical.

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            • spare_wheel May 16, 2013 at 7:38 pm

              the study that you cite from BC was actually a class project by a group of graduate students. moreover, as i recall the “n” for cycletracks was laughable 10. moreover, as i recall the study did not claim a statistically significant difference between bike lanes and cycle tracks. even more amusing physically separated multi-use paths showed a far higher rate of injury than most streets which suggests that the authors used a meaningless “injury” criterion.

              as for the bmj manuscript, its irrelevant to this debate since they did not study risk per intersection. in fact, they specifically excluded intersctions from the cycle track/path stats. talk about self-fulfilling prophecy.

              large european studies from denmark (e.g. the multiple studes of jensen et al) as well as multiple studies of dutch and german cycle tracks by the german cycling federation show that there is significant increase in overall injury rates on fully separated cycle paths as opposed to bike lanes. and these are not class projects with a n of 10.

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              • Brian Davis May 16, 2013 at 8:26 pm

                I’m sorry, but your arguments are jumping the shark. While I enjoy having good debates over best practices and what is best to advance cycling, this research has stood up to peer review and criticism, and the findings are therefore unambiguously valid. You’re making claims about the statistics used in the research that simply aren’t true. I cannot argue with that. I love to discuss and debate these things, but you’re fundamentally, mathematically wrong in your claims.

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                • spare_wheel May 17, 2013 at 7:16 am

                  I find it amusing that instead of addressing my critique in a substantive way you claimed “authority”. Considering your status as a student, this is quite amusing.

                  I claimed that Teschke et al did not perform a direct comparison of bike lanes with cycle tracks and you accused me of making invalid claims (e.g. dishonesty).

                  I have taken the liberty of quote every mention of “bike lane” in the text:

                  “…26 kilometers of bike lanes and paths per 100 000 population.”

                  “…median bike traffic counts were highest on cycle tracks, bike lanes, and paved multiuse paths…”

                  “The following 5 route types had significantly lower risks in the unadjusted analysis: major streets without parked cars and with no bike infrastructure, major streets without parked cars and with bike lanes, local streets with no bike infrastructure, local streets designated as bike routes, and cycle tracks.

                  “Bike lanes on major streets with no parked cars and off-street bike paths had nearly half the risk of the reference.”

                  As for my claim about Lusk et al. here is the relevant quote:

                  “For comparability with exposure data, it was important to exclude individuals injured at intersections who may have been riding on a cross street.”

                  There was no reason to exclude these crashes since they should have been equally present in the reference set. Unnecessary manipulation data is a major flaw and strongly suggests that Lusk et al cherry picked to promote a particular hypothesis. Despite these and other flaws in experimental design Lusk et al conclude:

                  “Our results suggest that cycle tracks lessen, or at least do not increase, crash and injury rates compared with the street.”

                  Wow. That is some ringing endorsement of the safety of the 6 cycle tracks studied. I will also note that once again, the study you cite did not compare the relative safety of cycle tracks with bike lanes.

                  And finally a comment about the reference set. The streets chosen by Lusk et al had 2.5 times less bike traffic than the cycle tracks. This is, of course, a completely absurd reference set.

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            • John S. Allen May 16, 2013 at 8:19 pm

              It is important to read reviews of studies and not only take them at face value. This is particularly true when the researchers are promoting one particular approach over another, whether that be separated or integrated cycling. The BMJ study (Montreal study by Lusk at al., promoters of cycle tracks) has been demolished on grounds of inaccurate and biased data selection. Review is here: http://john-s-allen.com/reports/montreal-kary.htm. The Vancouver-Toronto study has not been thoroughly examined yet, but its results are so extremely different from those of other studies as to raise very serious questions. The green lane project is not unbiased — it promotes separate bikeways. John Forester also found results which were more favorable to his point of view than other studies have shown, in particular in downplaying the importance of rear-end collisions. Careful, detailed studies conducted with the goal of actually detemining public policy, without bias — such as the large Copenhagen study — are more credible.

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              • Brian Davis May 16, 2013 at 9:04 pm

                You’re refuting a peer reviewed paper published in a refereed journal with what appears to be a blog post. It’s exceedingly detailed, but it has stood up to none of the scrutiny that the original paper has. I’m not trying to be dismissive or snide here, but an objective-minded person must regard one of these things more highly than the other.

                The vast, vast majority of research shows that cycling on protected bikeways is safer than cycling elsewhere. This is not irrefutable; it can be quite easily contradicted with research of similar quality, that has stood up to similar scrutiny. Pointing to a list of issues with the research does not meet this bar.

                Yes, cycling on a protected bikeway is safer than cycling elsewhere, no matter how much we do or do not wish it were so. Also, the sun will rise in the east tomorrow.

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                • spare_wheel May 17, 2013 at 7:34 am

                  peer reviewed paper published in a refereed journal”

                  The claim of “academic authority” is naive — a rookie error.

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              • Herb December 16, 2013 at 10:21 pm

                If the large Copenhagen study you speak of is this one by SU Jensen, http://www.ecf.com/files/2/12/16/070503_Cycle_Tracks_Copenhagen.pdf, then people might find the results interesting. Jensen noted,

                “The construction of cycle tracks in Copenhagen has resulted in an increase in cycle traffic of 18–20% and a decline in car traffic of 9–10%. The cycle tracks constructed have resulted in increases in accidents and injuries of 9–10% on the reconstructed roads.” The increase of accidents and injuries increased at intersections while decreased mid-block.

                On the surface it appears from this study that cycle track are dangerous since injuries increase. That is how anti-separationists have chosen to interpret it. Yet Jensen just listed the numbers without making them relative to the volume of cycling traffic. That’s the only way to know if it’s only due to an increase in cyclists or if there really is a negative trend. If you take into account that cycling traffic increased at double the rate of the increase in injuries then the risk to an individual is actually going down. Thanks to this blog post that interviewed statician Dr. Lon Roberts for this explanation http://bikefriendlyoc.org/2009/07/08/ask-the-experts-s%C3%B8ren-underlien-jensen-and-dr-lon-d-roberts-phd/

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        • spare_wheel May 16, 2013 at 4:38 pm

          i vehemently disagree that its difficult to design separated facilities with less intersection risk:

          *remove wall of parked cars
          *ban some or all right turns
          *channelize motorists (with yield signs)
          *signals

          PS: its an historical fact that amsterdam re-achieved high mode share prior to the $1 billion cyclepath building program.

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          • Brian Davis May 16, 2013 at 9:08 pm

            I agree with this 100%. Designing intersection treatments that are safe is not difficult from an engineering standpoint, and we have many examples of things that work, including those you state. It’s simply a matter of political will. All of the effective treatments inconvenience motor vehicles to some degree or another, and that is something that is sadly still hard to swallow for many.

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    • El Biciclero May 16, 2013 at 1:34 pm

      “To seriously address urban transportation problems transportation problems (rural ones are a different ball of wax entirely), we need to fundamentally rethink what our streets are, what purposes they serve, and what we should do with them. Vehicular cycling’s original sin is approaching these problems from an auto-centric mindset.”

      If “fundamentally rethinking” means, “let’s just abandon the street to cars and make special sidewalks for cyclists”, then I could agree with this, but that doesn’t sound like a fundamental rethink to me. Separated infrastructure does not sound like any kind of prioritization of non-motorized, vulnerable traffic, but more like prioritization of drivers’ “right” to drive fast and distracted.

      Reading most of the above comments, it seems the major concern people have is that they feel crowded when cycling on the street with cars. Some make it sound like the only choices are 1. using physically barricaded lanes/paths, or 2. riding down the middle of The Lane with drivers revving and honking behind you. What it really sounds like we need is just more space, not necessarily separate, barricaded space.

      If we really wanted to prioritize travel on the roadways, street parking would vanish entirely along bike routes and bike lanes would double or triple in width, giving everyone plenty of room to maneuver as fast or slow as they preferred without drivers feeling like anyone (other than other drivers) is “in their way”.

      I will freely admit that I like bike lanes, but I don’t much like separated “bike paths”. Or perhaps more clearly, I hate MUPs and other poorly-designed separated infrastructure, which is all we have in the U.S. Those who say, “but existing problems don’t preclude future solutions” may be logically correct, but as much as one might claim VC “doesn’t work” because not enough people are willing to try it, I might claim separated infrastructure “doesn’t work” in the U.S. because people aren’t willing to build it well. I am wary of any physically separated infrastructure–no matter how well-designed–because all flavors of it smack of putting bicyclists into “protective custody”; once you’re in it, you can’t get out, but don’t worry, it’s for your own good.

      Of course all arguments “against” separated infrastructure are moot as soon as Oregon repeals 814.420. Don’t force me to ride in it, and I don’t care anymore. Let cyclists have an actual choice about where to ride, and you’ll quickly see which separated designs work and which ones don’t. There’s a reason most drivers stick to streets to get around rather than sneaking through alleys; one is much more convenient than the other.

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      • Brian Davis May 16, 2013 at 2:43 pm

        To me, “fundamentally rethinking” means that from the wayback until now, the primary purpose of our streets has been to move cars, and now we must transition them to serve the primary purpose of moving people. That means rethinking lane striping, signal timing, speed limits, signage, you name it. There are a lot of ways to do this–a sophisticated installation of a “complete street” is one. Personally, I’d love more woonerf-type things, paved in cobblestone (save for smooth strips for bikes a la NW Marshall), public art in the middle of them as traffic calming, not even necessarily with sidewalks–peds could simply walk right in the middle. But trying to ride a bike in a street that was designed

        “I hate MUPs and other poorly-designed separated infrastructure, which is all we have in the U.S.”

        Yes, exactly! I think that’s a big fear of vehicular cyclists is that they’ll have to abandon a perfectly good road for a second class bikeway. But have you been to the Netherlands? The bikeways are almost invariably nicer, usually by a long way. They have a sidepath law there and nobody complains, as there is really no reason to ever want to ride elsewhere. I’d love to see us lift the mandatory sidepath law, but ideally we’d design our infrastructure well enough so it’s a moot point and nobody would want to ride elsewhere.

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    • are May 16, 2013 at 5:43 pm

      the advocacy groups that are sucking up all the industry money and that have credibility in the state legislatures have no agenda to repeal mandatory sidepath laws. so that will not be happening anytime soon.

      i would like to hear a coherent defense of the separated treatment recently installed on multnomah through the lloyd district. anyone?

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      • Brian Davis May 16, 2013 at 9:15 pm

        Multnomah is an interesting case study in light of this discussion, as we’ve protected the links, but, by and large, used a vehicular cycling solution at the nodes, mixing bicycles with right-turning motor vehicles. Personally, I think this is a better solution from a safety standpoint than allowing a potential right-hook conflict, but it seems to sacrifice something in terms of comfort.

        I think Roger Geller’s response to my PT post criticizing the City’s use of bike boxes to mitigate for the right-hook conflict is particularly insightful here: http://portlandtransport.com/archives/2012/12/why_bike_boxes.html

        The point is that perceived safety and actual safety are both very real factors in determining the success of a bike program. If only we can find solutions that offer both (spoiler alert: the Dutch and Danes have)…

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        • are May 16, 2013 at 9:28 pm

          it is not vehicular “mixing” to suddenly dump right turning traffic on me from my left at intersections. vehicular would be if i was in the travel lane itself and the right turning motorist simply turned out of my path, allowing me to continue through. also, placing me behind all these planters effectively precludes me from using the travel lane to position myself for a left turn.

          there is almost nothing to like about the new configuration. on the rare occasions when i cooperate with the design, i find broken glass and other debris in the bike lane.

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          • Brian Davis May 16, 2013 at 9:52 pm

            I’ve seen the broken glass & debris there too, and it’s frustrating. I think we can agree that if you’re on a bike, having this in the road is a danger regardless of whether it’s in a bike lane or vehicular/mixed use lane, no? That it’s in a bike lane so often is an indictment of the quality of our infrastructure, not the presence of the infrastructure.

            I hear you on the planters precluding maneuvering, but I for one love the separation it provides. An ideal facility (which NE Multnomah most decidedly is NOT) will provide both the perception of safety to me and the freedom to maneuver efficiently to you.

            I do not believe the fact that we have yet to achieve this in Portland is a valid argument to cease trying to do so. It can be done here, and we know this because it has elsewhere.

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            • El Biciclero May 17, 2013 at 2:26 pm

              “having [broken glass & debris] in the road is a danger regardless of whether it’s in a bike lane or vehicular/mixed use lane, no?”

              Well, yes, but one thing cars are good for: sweeping the lanes. This is why you find most debris in the gutter rather than in the travel portion of streets. How many times have they sent a sweeper down the bike portion of the new Multnomah configuration?

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              • are May 18, 2013 at 2:00 pm

                also, if you are in a barricaded separated facility, you have nowhere to go to escape the glass

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  • mikeybikey May 16, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Fatalism at its best. Yes, the way many are built may cause conflicts at intersections but i must have missed the memo that says the mere existence of a problem precludes the development of a solution to the problem. The take-away from this should be to stop building separated facilities that create the potential for conflict and start building ones that minimize or eliminate it. The idea that we should stop building separated infrastructure because some have a bad/dangerous design is without intellectual merit IMO.

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  • longgone May 16, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Wow, I have scanned the replies and comments here, yet NOT one single person had mentioned the ridiculous faux pas of J.Heine calling German auto drivers Nazi’s.
    This is why I never tell people in P-town I hail from a Southern state!

    Blinders, you all where blinders despite your claims to the contrary.

    I am not a white power sympathizer by ANY stretch, but this takes the cake for today on BP>ORG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You people are amazing!

    C’mon Jonathan, Is that quote real? Did you not see it?

    I like J. Heine, alot but that is soooo f-ed up.

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    • 9watts May 16, 2013 at 11:20 am

      Not true. You’re the third, or is it fourth?

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      • longgone May 16, 2013 at 11:31 am

        Yeah, where? I looked again. I do not Twitter. Is that where they posted them, because I see none here above mine so far.

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        • 9watts May 16, 2013 at 11:34 am

          Brian Davis & Daniel L
          search ‘Godwin’s Law’

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          • longgone May 16, 2013 at 3:35 pm

            Thanks, I am aware of Godwins law..
            My mistake and formal apology is posted below.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 16, 2013 at 11:20 am

      Yes that quote is real and yes I saw it… I shared it in the post didn’t I?

      I figured I didn’t need to call it out on my own and thought readers could decide if they wanted to react to it or not. Interestingly, when I linked to the story via Twitter, that Nazi line got noticed immediately.

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      • longgone May 16, 2013 at 11:36 am

        I aint tryin’ to kill the messenger so to speak, I am just kinda flabbergasted, that’s all.
        I still think that is pretty f-ed up, on Jan’s account.

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        • El Biciclero May 16, 2013 at 11:53 am

          Um, perhaps they (cycle tracks) were introduced in the late ’30s – early ’40s when the ruling party of Germany actually were Nazis…

          The latter part of the quote mentions the spread of the cycle track treatment to other places after WWII broke out, which implies their initial introduction was before WWII, likely by actual Nazis.

          There’s political correctness, and then there’s actual political/historical reality. Sheesh.

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          • was carless May 16, 2013 at 12:52 pm

            Germany was the first country to heavily invest in freeway infrastructure, does that mean driving on the Interstate supports the Nazis?

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            • El Biciclero May 16, 2013 at 4:33 pm

              It seems to reinforce Heine’s characterization of Nazis as “car-obsessed”…

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      • longgone May 16, 2013 at 11:43 am

        And BTW.. just because you shared it, DOES NOT mean you saw it just because you say so.
        sorry.

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    • longgone May 16, 2013 at 11:23 am

      “wear” blinders… I typed so fast I rally do not believe this!
      No wonder none of you can really talk rationally about racial inequality in your own back yard!
      What a mess.

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      • 9watts May 16, 2013 at 11:28 am

        longgone,
        I read the quote as saying the Nazi administration was determined to clear the roads of non-car traffic. I am in no position to judge that statement, but it wouldn’t surprise me. We have our own history of doing this in the US, see Peter Norton’s Fighting Traffic.

        He wasn’t calling German drivers Nazis.

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        • Schrauf May 16, 2013 at 12:01 pm

          Yes, Jan is clearly referring to a historical period of road design when there actually WERE Nazis in Germany. Do we need a history lesson here on BP? Holy crap. Basic reading comphrension.

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        • longgone May 16, 2013 at 12:55 pm

          Uuh, o.k.,..9watts, I luv ya brother, you are one of my mostest favorites on the BP.org.
          And I see your point.
          No beefs.
          But even in the context of the war,(which I do now see in the quote, btw. I did miss that, sorry.) NOT all Germans were Nazi’s in the war.

          I am sure there had to be a V.W bug buyer in 1938 who might have have had an aversion to the Reich, albeit maybe not many.
          Look I get it.
          My Grandfather trained bi-lingual German Shepherds in Nebraska for use with under cover troops in WW2.
          He spoke of resistance liaisons, and that all Germans were not Nazis.
          My family still had relations in Bavaria at the time.
          The old folks around the table when I was young had many heated conversations in German, when it came to politics and religion, knowing the kids couldn’t keep up with what they were saying.
          As to Schrauf’s comment below, I do not need a history lesson on this, (others may ) and I never stop reading about it,(and others should not) either…. So take off.
          Who’s saying J. Heine s knowledge of German bike path infrastructure is historically accurate anyway?I
          I dare anyone to ride a 1938 German single speed bike around traffic anytime soon, and see if they dont wish for a separate bike lane out of traffics way.

          On topic, I have historically been a “vehicular cyclist”, but times they are a changin’.
          Not all peeps wish to hang out in the lane.
          More peeps need to ride bicycles.
          The answer for America and bike infrastructure will more than likely become a balance of both sides of this debate.
          I trust the great minds at work on this.
          Until then I take the lane….
          peace.

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    • davemess May 16, 2013 at 1:33 pm

      Long, did you not get the context of that statement? By using the word “originally” he insinuates that he is talking historically, and thus describing the Nazis in Germany during the 1930-40′s. I think you understood the author to be calling today’s German’s Nazis, and if so, I did not remotely read that from the quoted text. He is stating that the Nazis designed the roads at that point in history in Germany.

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      • Chris I May 16, 2013 at 2:55 pm

        Exactly. He’s not calling German’s Nazis (that would be silly, right?). He’s just equating those arguing for separated infrastructure with the Nazis. It’s simple!

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      • longgone May 16, 2013 at 3:31 pm

        Hello Everyone…
        I fell victim to my own worst pet peeve ..
        I mistakenly thought (while ripped on caffeine),as I skimmed the post way too quickly, that J. Heine was referring to modern Germans.
        I always enjoy news about Bicycle Quarterly, and I had a spastic, WTF freak out.. embarrassing to say the least…
        Arg, My bad!.. really bad.
        Step in your own poo, while have foot in mouth disease, bad.

        Please accept my humble, and true full apology.

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      • longgone May 18, 2013 at 9:11 am

        Thanks again davemess,..
        My mistake was vastly embarrassing, to say the least.
        I posted yet another acknowledgement of it, as others are not as kind as you , or may have not seen it yet.
        I truly was reading WAY too fast, and suffered my own worst pet peeve of not re-reading before commenting.
        Yikes, I hate myself for that.

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  • Craig Harlow May 16, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    I am not convinced that the “vehicular cycling” approach addresses the needs of the 8-80 age range; specifically, the need for psychological comfort when cycling for transportation. Little people and elderly ride their bikes for transport too, not to mention riders of all ages who fear being smushed to death in auto traffic.

    However, I can see vehicular cycling being viable if (1) auto speeds were severely reduced (i.e. 15 mph throughout an entire metro area) and (2) speed compliance was severely enforced.

    Since I don’t view that combo as having even a remote chance of being achieved, as a norm I don’t see 8-year-olds ever cycling in the roadway to school, the library, or a friend’s house; nor do I see 80-year-olds ever cycling in the roadway to the grocery, the pub, or the next Occupy rally.

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    • are May 16, 2013 at 5:49 pm

      the question is not whether my grandmother is willing or able to take the lane on sandy. the question is whether, if we invite her onto a cycletrack that hides her from motorists and lulls her into believing there is no risk at intersections, did we make a mistake. the safety of some of the buffered sidepath treatments we are seeing around portland is undermined by our apparent unwillingness to remove enough onstreet parking to create clear sightlines.

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    • Terry D May 17, 2013 at 8:03 am

      On properly built greenways with less than 500 vehicles a day we see this all the time. Grandma with grandchild biking to the store or park, at least I do in NE and in my own neighborhood when I bike to the store or run errands.

      Separated facilitates on main arterials though, for this demographic to use them, would need to be separated completely in some way and also be given enough room for other faster cyclists to pass them or these users will also be intimidated by other cyclists. When I was biking around California the past few weeks I noticed their common road configuration is different than ours. Instead of that center turn lane, they tend to have multiple lanes with a center planting strip forcing drivers to make U turns. They also prioritize moving cars so much that they have WAY too many lanes on almost every arterial, and most in the suburbs do not allow parking on them. In this case, removing a WHOLE LANE, and creating a three-foot wide planting strip and with a seven foot wide bike lane would work..and poof…most of California would have a nice separated system assuming they engineered the intersections properly.

      In Oregon though, we have constructed our arterials very differently and have different land use patterns. Roadways like 122nd, Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway and Barbur are major opportunities if the roadways could be reconfigured like this, but in the central city we just do not have the room the suburbs have. Hopefully, something nice comes out of Foster. Burnside would also be a long-term possibility for a curb-tight cycle track. Narrow bike lanes work for many, but the overall demographic we are trying to reach needs better facilitates.

      Ne Multnomah is a good example of what should be done on LONG corridors. Killingsworth from Willamette Drive to Cully, 20th from the 17th street overpass to NE Multnomah, Holgate from I 205 to SE 17th….the only way to do it is to pick specific roads and remove parking completely from them and make them the premier corridors, having the local greenways feed into them.

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      • Craig Harlow May 17, 2013 at 12:10 pm

        Terry D, you expressed well what I had in mind in my comment.

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  • o/o May 16, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    it can be dangerous especially at most intersections where cars are turning in the path of bicycles crossing. Guess drivers and cyclists need to watch out for while going through intersections. Ideally drivers should yield to bicycles and pedestrian but….

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  • Spiffy May 16, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    it makes absolutely no difference whether you’re riding on separate facilities, in a bike lane, or in the middle of the lane… until we hold drivers responsible for their actions some people will continue to be afraid to ride a bicycle…

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  • Brent May 16, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    When you go to the Netherlands, Jonathan, you’ll see that the real brilliance of Dutch separated infrastructure is found in their intersections. At big ones, for instance, drivers essentially have two stop lines, the first for crossing motorized traffic, and the second for bicycles. Where we can find agreement is our common desire for better intersection design. As for the rest of the path, Jan Heine and others already agree: “[S]eparate bike paths seem [are!] appealing. You are away from cars, riding by yourself…”

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  • John Liu May 16, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    For context and background, here is what the “Dutch intersection” looks like and how it works. I believe this design addresses many of Jan Heine’s concerns, in a way that the Seattle-area cycle track pictured in his post does not.

    http://wiki.coe.neu.edu/groups/nl2011transpo/wiki/ba51e/

    I suppose the thing to do would be to build several of these things at appropriate spots around Portland, make the effort to educate drivers and cyclists on their usage, then observe the accident rate for a few years, in particular the accident rate among cyclists riding in the traffic lanes versus cyclists riding in the cycle paths.

    It might end up being like traffic circles aka roundabouts. When they are first installed in your typical American city, drivers freak out, freeze, plow into each other, and complain loudly. After a while, they figure it out and traffic flows the way it is supposed to.

    I am personally more of a vehicular cyclist. As long as cyclists aren’t “required” to stay in cycle tracks, I’ve no opposition to them.

    Realistically, Dutch-style cycle tracks and intersections could only be installed on the largest streets in inner city Portland – you need roadway width equivalent to at least five traffic lanes (one traffic lane in each direction, one center turn lane, one wide cycle path in each direction, with raised curb separation), and that is with all street parking eliminated. That’s as much of a “road diet” as an arterial street can take before ceasing to function. Thus, for the foreseeable future, the vast majority of riding in our city will be on the regular street, in painted bike lanes or in the traffic lane.

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    • Chris I May 16, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      This is the problem with his opinion. Separated infrastructure is not bad, the problem is that we have been focusing on the mid-block, and not the intersections. Cycle tracks are great, but they don’t work alone.

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    • Nick May 16, 2013 at 8:35 pm

      Excellent link! Great visuals of smart intersections. Thanks for that.

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    • are May 16, 2013 at 9:33 pm

      the effectiveness of that design depends on separate signal phases, but separate signal phases would seem to make the diversion of the cyclist out of her direct path unnecessary.

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    • spare_wheel May 17, 2013 at 7:40 am

      “As long as cyclists aren’t “required” to stay in cycle tracks, I’ve no opposition to them.”

      Cyclists are legally required to stay in cycle tracks in OR

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  • WillB May 16, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    What a contrast to the opinion offered by David Hembrow. http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2013/05/what-it-really-means-to-go-dutch.html

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  • Mark May 16, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    I would bet that most accidents involving *pedestrians* and cars occur at intersections, as well. So, perhaps we would be safer without sidewalks? They are just cycle tracks for feet that give walkers a false sense of security. Why don’t pedestrians just “take the lane”? (Satire, by the way.)

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    • spare_wheel May 16, 2013 at 7:21 pm

      wake me up when pbot builds a cycle track with signaling at intersections. and i think there are a small number of those fancy pedestrian signals around pdx.

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    • El Biciclero May 17, 2013 at 12:48 pm

      Well, in all seriousness, pedestrians have their own signals at big enough intersections so that the ped “WALK” signal is not given at the same time as, say, a green left turn arrow for conflicting auto traffic. This is the main mitigation for conflicts between autos/peds. There is also the greater maneuverability of pedestrians, most of whom can stop, or even switch from moving forward to moving backward in a split second, something that is not possible on a bike at typical bike speeds. The secondary effect of having their own signals at intersections is that pedestrians, unless they walk exceptionally quickly or exceptionally slowly, must stop at just about every intersection, if they obey their signals, because the signal timing is optimized for cars traveling near the speed limit.

      This last point–stopping at every intersection/driveway–is one thing I fear about inappropriately designed cycle tracks installed along intersection- or driveway-intensive routes. If cyclists are to be “safe” then it is incumbent upon them to slow or stop at every single driveway or intersection, even though parallel auto traffic may blithely sail through. Since “everyone knows” that cyclists lack the common sense to do this (stopping) voluntarily, we must put up signage and enact laws to compel them to do it–you know–for their own safety!

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      • spare_wheel May 17, 2013 at 2:15 pm

        “we must put up signage and enact laws to compel them to do it–you know–for their own safety!”

        and lets face it, some of those who advocate for separated infrastructure everywhere are not interested in cycling for transport. they see bike sidewalks that slow cyclists, create unnecessary stops, or meander fruitlessly as “world class”.

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  • Robert Cooper May 16, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Does anyone on this list use his (her) real name? I skipped the others’ comments.

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    • younggods May 16, 2013 at 4:20 pm

      Oh, very good!

      I skip comments made by people over 35 years old. However, I’ve made an exception in this one case.

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    • q`Tzal May 16, 2013 at 10:52 pm

      Welcome to the Internet.

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    • KillMoto May 17, 2013 at 3:20 pm

      I dont.
      But then again, neither did Alexander Hamilton when discussing the Bill of Rights (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federalist_Papers)

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  • John Liu May 16, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    I do, but what difference does it make?

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  • Joe Adamski May 16, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    I’m thinking that while Forresters “Effective Cycling’ was all I had when I learned to ride in traffic and aside from his crusty snarkiness that its the ONLY choice, I’m more inclined to think that it’s not binary: Vehicular Cycling or sidepaths. Longer connectors with well planned intersections with major interesections, strong connectors to them on streets. Somewhere between 1976 when EC was first published and today, we have learned something, I’m sure. I hope.

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    • Joe Adamski May 16, 2013 at 5:30 pm

      I probably am not clear.. strong off street trails connecting neighborhoods, jobs,shopping,transit,etc. So you can accomplish much of your trip on a separated path. but making sure that the separated path has strong connections to the on street network.

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      • davemess May 17, 2013 at 7:21 am

        Those would be great in an ideal world, but with the fact that we already have a devoloped city, you are talking about needing to buy up millions of dollars of land to make that happen. Check out some bike paths in CO (Boulder, Fort Collins). They have done a better job of integrating them into their network and they go to a lot of places people want to go. They do this by utilizing the land next to creeks and rivers (for the most part), as it was never built (also allows for almost all paths to be underpasses of roads. Unfortunately we don’t have that luxury here in Portland.

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        • Terry D May 17, 2013 at 8:08 am

          I just spent almost a week in Folsom/Sacramento visiting family. This is exactly what has been done along the American River and its tributaries. The MUP network is amazing. I would never want to live in strip-mall hell, but the network of paths make it a bicycling tourism spot. Folsom also has a very nice bike lane network (because California paves over everything, they had room to reallocate space for nice wide bike lanes.)

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  • KillMoto May 17, 2013 at 9:57 am

    The blog poster lost me when he (1) twice used the word “accindent” to refer to a collision. “Accident” lets drivers pretend that they don’t control their cars, and (2) when he went straight to Godwin’s Law even before the first comment was posted.

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    • Deeebo May 17, 2013 at 11:43 am

      Agreed. If you really feel the need to make the bizarre inference that those advocating for separated modes are in some way like Nazis you may have a few insecurities regarding your arguments or are extremely prone to exaggeration. It struck me as pretty lazy and juvenile and detracts from any point hes trying to make.

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      • El Biciclero May 17, 2013 at 2:56 pm

        “It struck me as pretty lazy and juvenile…”

        Another thing that’s lazy is not a) reading the entire article this post refers to, and b) not reading enough previous comments on this post. Doing either of those things would have opened your eyes to the fact that Heine’s reference to Nazis was historical. Do people not realize that “Nazis” actually existed at one point in history?

        I thought I was sensitive, but I find it fascinating that we are so primed to “call out” others for their political incorrectness/social insensitivity/perceived bigotry/racism/sexism/orientationism/chauvinism/ageism/modeism/critisicm etc. that the default seems to be to point fingers first and make excuses later.

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        • pengo May 18, 2013 at 8:30 am

          Welcome to the internet…

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  • DK May 17, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Portland has already demonstrated a solution.

    -A bicycle traffic light at intersections.

    Mr Heine has and interesting and well thought-out take on the situation, but I humbly disagree.

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  • KillMoto May 17, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Meanwhile, in just over 10 years time, places that have invested in bicycle infrastructure have grown biking mode share at more than twice the rate of those who have not: http://streetsblog.net/2013/05/17/the-bike-boom-is-happening-in-cities-making-a-push-to-improve-cycling/

    I “vehicular cycle” all the time. I’m pretty badass. But let’s face it, until more people get on bikes and ride, we’ll see more of this: http://tinyurl.com/atpwjcw.
    For those uninterested in reading the link:
    * Experienced cyclist following the law
    * Run over by truck driver who had multiple known driving violations
    * A grand jury didn’t even let it go to trial. They gave their thumbs’ down, then DROVE home.

    IMHO, whatever gets more citizens and voters on bikes is a good thing. Cyclists – even those on cycle tracks – are neither blind nor stupid. We pay extra attention nearing intersections, and stop when prudent.

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    • spare_wheel May 17, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      Yeah…places that have invested in bike lanes.

      I want to see a city-wide network of buffered bike lanes instead of another thousand meters of poorly-designed “world class” cycle track to nowhere.

      “Cyclists – even those on cycle tracks – are neither blind nor stupid. We pay extra attention nearing intersections, and stop when prudent.”

      So why not just make cyclists ride on the sidewalks. After all, they have proper signalled intersections. Too slow for you, KillMoto? Are you some kind of vehicular speed racer or something?

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      • KillMoto May 18, 2013 at 7:56 am

        Where sidewalks are the best link between places (e.g., along a one way street going opposite my destination), I use them. I dismount and walk the bike. It’s all exercise, it’s all good.

        But no cyclists should not ride on the sidewalk. That displaces people who need a safe place to walk aside the road.

        True, some cycle tracks are bad. I can personally point a lot of roadways, sidewalks and bike lanes that are designed poorly. But a poorly designed roadway is no reason the say “all roads are bad”, now is it?

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        • spare_wheel May 18, 2013 at 9:56 am

          Its not a black and white choice between cycletrack and no infrastructure. IMO, in most situations a buffered DZfree bike lane is superior to a physically separated infrastructure (especially the narrow, non-signalised, and obstructed infrastructure built in portland). Moreover, the German experience suggests that wide DZfree bike lanes can help promote massive increases in mode share.

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  • are May 17, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    Brian Davis
    from the wayback until now, the primary purpose of our streets has been to move cars, and now we must transition them to serve the primary purpose of moving people.

    depends how far back you are reaching. the five-lane long diagonals may have been designed for cars, though even there i think the streetcar had something to do with it. but the urban grid has been around since almost forever. and what we have done is allow the private automobile to take over a space which actually was not designed for it, and we keep incrementally patching it with lane striping and signage and signals and then crosswalks and bike lanes — all of this aftermarket stuff pasted on in a losing effort to contain a mode for which the grid was not actually designed.

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  • Alan 1.0 May 17, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    Chris I
    “Having lived in Europe, I believe that cycling there is successful in spite of (and not because of) the bike paths. It may help to know that separate bike paths originally were not introduced to make cycling better, but to clear the road for cars (by the car-obsessed Nazis in Germany).”

    That’s a quote from Jan Heime and in the very next paragraph of that article Heime says:

    “To be clear, I am not implying that those advocating for separate paths should be in any form compared to Nazis. I only included this for a historic perspective on why European cyclists have to cycle on segregated facilities.”

    It’s good to see that he’s already evoked Godwin’s Law. I was thinking it would take a few dozen responses before we would get there.

    Godwin’s Law states: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”

    Since he’s not making a comparison, Heime’s words do not transgress Godwin’s Law.

    More importantly, Heime offers valuable and expert commentary on the matter of separated bike paths and ignoring that does nothing to further understanding of the issue. Maybe he shouldn’t have offered the sidelight on Nazi policies on bikes (though I found it interesting and pertinent) but that still leaves the rest of his blog making some disturbing points about a very recently built cycletrack in Seattle and the implication that cycletracks generally are being over emphasized and under designed in the current wave of biking progress. I thank Brian Davis, spare_wheel and others for engaging in informed debate on that topic with both authoritative citations (thanks!!) as well as their own observations.

    BTW, in the comments under Heime’s article, Christian Bernhard Hagen brings some good questions to the historical accuracy of the Nazi party and mandatory sidepath laws.

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    • longgone May 18, 2013 at 9:27 am

      My mistake began with reading..

      “Having lived in Europe…
      , ..cars, (by the car obbsessed Nazis,).
      ..and ended by not finishing the paragraph…

      I stopped right there, and did not re-reading it.
      Very dumb on my part.

      In the context of the topic,his sidelight is relevant, and historically acurate.

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      • Alan 1.0 May 18, 2013 at 12:06 pm

        Yeah, I saw your follow-up, longgone. Good on you for willingness to change and admit it! But the silly N* comments kept on coming and Chris I’s post with the relevant quote from Heime provided a handy reply platform. Besides, Chris I’s posts usually make more sense to me so that one caught my eye; no offense meant.

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        • longgone May 19, 2013 at 7:19 am

          Well, hopefully one day a post of mine will make sense too! ;)

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  • Syzlak May 18, 2013 at 12:55 am

    Bad design causes collisions and discourages bicycling. Why do VC’s insist that all cycle tracks are bad? Go Dutch– it’s the only way forward!

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  • KillMoto May 18, 2013 at 8:03 am

    Of course, perhaps the problem is not with the cycle tracks at all, but with how Americans build intersections. Watch…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vzDDMzq7d0

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  • Mike Beck May 19, 2013 at 3:54 am

    Make no mistake, Jonathan….. JAN HEINE ENDORSES CYCLETRACKS IN SEATTLE. Just not poorly designed ones. He identified a couple in Seattle that do work, and should be expanded upon. He mentioned his support for the cycletrack connector for the missing link in Ballard and the one by the port south of downtown.

    Jan is being critical of Seattle’s extension of the interurban trail using a less than ideally designed cycletrack i guess?

    His tired rhetoric about nazis and separatism isn’t even genuine. He thinks the nearby arterials unfit for cycling, even though one main route has combined bus, bike and RTO lanes..

    Jan can’t have it both ways, and is just throwing up half baked roadblocks even HE doesn’t agree with.

    Jan Heine unequivocally endorses cycletracks that are well implemented in urban areas. As part of a balanced approach, of course.

    I urge people to read Jan’s blog post on this subject, and read for yourself his waffling on cycletracks and assessment of nearby routes as unfit for bicycling.

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  • Mike Beck May 19, 2013 at 4:03 am

    cycling advocate David Hembrow would consider North America’s forays into building in cycletrack networks half-baked. The problems with cycletracks in ALL countries are managing intersection conflicts effectively.

    Could this small stretch of N Seattle Jan is grousing about get a properly designed and implemented cycletrack, to beef up the main N/S connector into Seattle? Absolutely. Kind of like how JAN HEINE THINKS THE CYCLETRACK SHOULD BE DESIGNED IN BALLARD – with an eye to the details.

    Jan is not an absolutist against cycletracks, as he makes clear at his blog commentary if not his blog post on this subject.

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  • Mike Beck May 20, 2013 at 4:05 am

    Jan’s actually quite the proponent of cycle tracks, sidepaths, and traffic separation in general – it’s his ‘first choice always’ if implemented well. Jan’s not quite the fan of vehicular cycling people think him to be.

    From the followup commentary to his blog post, Jan writes his praises of other cycle tracks he supports in Seattle, and considers nearby main alternate routes (even one with a bike way) ‘unfit for cycling’.

    People need some perspective here. Jan Heine supports traffic separation and cycle paths when implemented well.

    Jan’s words from his blog commentary -

    “Separate paths are useful and safe where there are no intersections ……………..I don’t disagree with the fact that many riders don’t feel safe when riding on the street………………I do agree with you that getting more people on bikes is crucial, and that having to cycle in the street is a big obstacle for many people……………. Bike lanes in effect provide a place where cyclists can ride at a different speed from other traffic…………I agree that in some places, separate facilities are great. If you can design a bike path that doesn’t have intersections at every block, it can be a huge asset. In Seattle, they even built two underpasses so the Burke-Gilman Trail can pass under two major roads without intersection…………..I agree that design is crucial……………Having separate light cycles for cars and bicycles can help with safety…………….I agree that infrastructure can be good, but it needs to be applied with good judgment…………….You know as well as I do that neither Aurora nor Greenwood (nearby main routes) are suitable or safe for cycling……………I do understand that many riders aren’t comfortable doing this (share lane with traffic), so we should provide alternative routes…….Yes, taking the lane for the exclusive use of cyclists is a great solution, and one that I wholeheartedly approve of…….Yes, we agree on many things. I am all for separate facilities where they can be implemented well. That always will be my first choice,………………As I have stated multiple times, I am not opposed to “protected” bike facilities, if they are truly protected. …………The separate cycle track along Shilshole remains the best option. The industrial driveways mostly are disused, and the four or five big ones could be dealt with easily…………… There is a painted bike lane. So you have separation of cars and trucks in one lane and cyclists in the other…………
    (talking about south Seattle) Of course, the lack of intersections also means that it be a great candidate for a separate facility that is totally off the roadway……………What I am advocating is the best approach for each situation…………”

    and he talks about his injuries riding next to traffic

    “he rider may have lost control on the narrow tires of his racing bike. It happened to me once, but I was lucky to crash into the back of a delivery van………Certainly, for me, getting hit from behind has been the major cause for injuries – it’s happened twice………”

    maybe that’s why he’s a fan of cycle tracks in Ballard or at other locations in Seattle, when done well.

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  • Bjorn December 17, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    Heine ignores the real danger of low bicycle mode share. Countless studies show that bicycling is safer per mile ridden when more people are cycling and separated bike facilities do seem to increase ridership. For that reason even if a separated bike facility is more dangerous under identical conditions I think in the real world it will be safer because there will be more people biking on it, and few people driving. Also the drivers will be more aware of cyclists because there are more of them.

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  • Todd Hayes July 15, 2014 at 6:33 am

    The word advocate is used incorrectly by the author, and by some who made comments here. One cannot “advocate (verb) FOR” something.

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  • longgone May 18, 2013 at 9:02 am

    PS… s.s.s. I dont feel like cleaning up my spelling on this one.

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